Brits warned against ‘party weekend’ as UK ‘on edge of losing control’ of virus


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BRITS have today been warned against having a party weekend – as a top scientist says the UK is « on the edge of losing control » of coronavirus.

It comes as thousands of drinkers hit the town for one last blowout before the new « rule of six » comes into force on Monday.

Last night drinkers flocked in groups to beer gardens in London, Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham – ahead of next week’s new restrictions.

John Apter, of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: « There is a real risk some members of the public will take advantage of the current situation and treat this weekend as a party weekend ahead of the tighter restrictions being introduced on Monday. »

And ex-chief scientific adviser and Scientific Advisory Group member, Sir Mark Walport, warned: « I think one would have to say that we’re on the edge of losing control. »

He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: « The short answer is the only way to stop the spread of this infection is to reduce the number of people we all come into contact with, that lowers the risk.

« It’s a very very fine balancing act, it’s very important to get youngsters back to school, people to university, but it means we’re going to have to hold back our contacts in other areas. »

Groups of friends gathered across UK cities in what might be their last night out as a crew for weeks.

On Wednesday the PM announced new restrictions in a bid to stop coronavirus’ alarming spread — after Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty revealed infections were soaring among the young.

He warned that people flouting the clampdown — including bans on social gatherings of more than six — could even be arrested.

In his first press conference since July, the PM announced moves to ramp up enforcement of the tough rules to make sure everyone is following them – or they risk being slapped with fines of at least £100.

And now Brits will face whopping fines for breaking self-isolation rules as part of new plans to halt the surge in coronavirus cases.

Mr Johnson is drawing up new plans to enforce the strict measures amid fears people are ignoring advice.

Medical experts warned that a second spike in coronavirus was being fuelled by young people failing to follow the rules on social distancing and hygiene.

In a concerning development, infections have surged among middle-aged Brits – as cases in over-50s rocketed by 92 per cent last week.

Senior government officials have said the rise in cases in higher risk groups is « worrying » as Downing Street looks to stem the spread of the bug heading into the winter.

From Monday people in England will be unable to gather in groups of more than six – including children – and if they do they could even be arrested.

The laws will apply indoors and outdoors, after police chiefs said that the rules were too confusing for people to follow.

The PM apologised for having to take such measures, and said it « breaks my heart » to have to stop families from being able to see each other.

He said: « I wish that we did not have to take this step. But as your Prime Minister, I must do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and save lives. »

And he promised he will only keep the strict rules in place « as long as necessary », but said it was « just too early to say » how long they will be need to stay for.

It means that grandparents and grandchildren may not be able to spend Christmas together if the rules stay in place until then.

On Wednesday Matt Hancock admitted the new lockdown rules banning groups of more than six could be still in place at Christmas – but he hoped for them to be scrapped by then.

Mr Hancock was asked on Radio 1’s Newsbeat if the rules will still be in place for Christmas.

And he replied: « Potentially beyond. I’d like to be able to relax them before Christmas, obviously… »

The Health Secretary replied: « not necessarily and this is one of the problems of the virus. »

Mr Hancock added on BBC Radio 4: « I really hope we can turn this around before Christmas.

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